Praise Jesus, it’s the collapse of evangelical Christian rule in America. Rejoice!
“I suppose if the moral lessons of the Bible aren’t explanations, Jesus could have saved a lot of breath. It seems like he went to great lengths to explain appropriate behaviour.”
I think that it is much simpler to explain what one considers appropriate behavior (should-s) than to convincingly argue for those behaviors. However, I’ll concede that moral allegories often suffice to convince and that Jesus’ moral lessons could be regarded as moral explanations. I reacted to the wrong word because my objection is to being should upon.
I have no intention of studying the Bible because I do not accept the underlying precept (a supernatural says that you should behave this way), but I know enough to know that it is inconsistent.
As I said, when I was a kid I liked Jesus’ more tolerant moral tales. Take the story of the adulteress, for example: I think that a punishment should fit a crime (though better to fix the causes of the crime) so the notion of a crowd’s presuming to stone someone to death for mere adultery is preposterous and the crowd’s act is immoral according to other moral rules. The hypocrisy of juxtaposing thou-shalt-not-kill with stoning for adultery is utterly objectionable.
Before you think that Jesus was stopping that act and that such immoral prescriptions no longer occur, I remind you that a few years ago a Muslim woman was sentenced to be stoned to death (as soon as she’d delivered the baby conceived out of wedlock). Stoning and killings – mostly of the female participant – are still perpetrated in Islam. In this sense, Christendom is ahead of Islam, and mostly thanks to secularism in Christendom.
You said that you think that I believe in Christianity. No, I only accept the compassionate segments, and I accept those because we are all united by our common humanity. I don’t care who provides an explanation or under what pretext of authority it is written, the point is whether or not the moral rule makes humanistic sense. The problem that I see with the Bible is that many of the prescriptions are immoral (in a humanistic sense) or contradict one another.
The behavioral problem lies more with people than with religions, but people-problems spread into religion because people administer religions. Still, religions ideally could prescribe only humanistic behavior, and some people would still disobey.
The problem that excites some atheists to anti-religious sentiment lies in the fact that some religions are employed to justify and promote behaviors that are immoral. Intolerance and hatred are anti-humanistic, so Christianity continues to be guilty of less egregious crimes than stoning.
Islam is currently being subverted to the political aims of hateful imams. Those in Muslim countries who lack the education to see where their theocracy is headed are dupes on a collision course.
“If God kills, lies, cheats, discriminates, and otherwise behaves in a manner that puts the Mafia to shame, that’s okay, he’s God. He can do whatever he wants. Anyone who adheres to this philosophy has had his sense of morality, decency, justice and humaneness warped beyond recognition by the very book that is supposedly preaching the opposite.” ~ Dennis McKinsey in newsletter Biblical Errancy
Because the WordPress system does not allow for modification of posting time, the following lengthy sequence is posted out of order:
Full sequence: Absolutist Fears, Comments; Bouncing back to Dave , Comment; No Things in Moderation; Creation Myths, Comments; Conversions, Comments; My God is bigger than your god, Comments; Of must and men, Comments; Transcendant rhetorical devices, Comments; The so-called creation versus evolution debate, Comments; Apologetic creations, Comments; From the Cradle, Comments; West of Eden, Comments; The Clash of Titans, Comments; The place of Emotion, Comments .
<i>I don’t categorize the moral lessons as falling under explanation, rather they are prescriptions and proscriptions.</i>
“I suppose that if you see them as just some sort of abritrary rules, then you would not see them as religion explaining how we should then live.”
I absolutely do not see them as an “explanation” of should! (excuse the pun). Shoulds, yes, explanation of shoulds, no. I see them more as guidelines.
This does not mean that I reject all of the “rules”. To take the most obvious prohibition: I certainly have no desire to murder anyone, and not because I am worried about punishment in some supposed afterlife but because I could not live with my conscience in this life if I had deliberately killed someone for nonessential personal reasons.
I would not want to be a soldier, and would have difficulty with killing someone even if forced into that role when under attack, but I could live with myself after a kill-or-be-killed killing. Clearly, I wouldn’t even be alive if I did not act to prevent a be-killed act.
I am an atheist, which means that I am a secular humanist. As an atheist, I am not merely not convinced that a supernatural being exists, I am quite certain that there is none. If there is no deity, then religious dictates cannot be the Word of a Nonexistent God. This means that these religious moralistic rules can only be taken to be the edicts of another man, and I will not willingly act as some other man tells me if I do not agree with the rule. I don’t like to be should upon. If the demander pointed a gun at me, I’d probably waive those objections, in particular my objection to shooting him first. I would not necessarily be happy about it, but I’d feel justified in doing it. I sincerely hope that the situation never arises, not least because I don’t own a gun.
I don’t commit adultery, not because the Bible tells me not to and not because I am under threat of being stoned to death, but because I love my wife and would not wish to hurt her. This is a personal interpersonal morality of my own chosing.
I object to religionist insistence that moral guidelines represent absolute moral truths because this attitude typically accompanies an intolerance that offends my more humanist sense of morality.
Part 4 of response to No Things in Moderation. Full sequence: Absolutist Fears, 4 Comments, Response to Dave, No Things in Moderation, Creation Myths, 5 Comments, Conversions, No Comments, My God is bigger than your god, No Comments